ceiling insulation

Ceiling Insulation: The Complete Guide (2018)

If you want to enjoy a cosier home in the winter and stave off the searing heat in the summer, then installing quality ceiling insulation is a must.

An uninsulated home loses a quarter of all its energy through its roof. This is because heat rises through your ceilings – and eventually your roof – via convection and conduction.

Installing ceiling thermal insulation minimises the amount of heat energy lost by convection and conduction– leaving you free to relax in a cosier home.

But there are many types of ceiling insulation out there. How do you know which is the best for your humble abode?

We have written this article to help you choose the best ceiling insulation for your home.

Feeling comfortable in your home is important. The last thing you want to feel when you kick your shoes off after a long day of work is a cold draught running its icy fingers between your toes.

So sit back, relax, and continue reading to find out about which ceiling insulation is the most ideal for your home.

You are sure to come away from this article a wiser (and potentially warmer!) person.

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Types of ceiling insulation

There are four main types of ceiling insulation: spray foam insulation, blanket fill insulation, loose fill insulation, and structural insulated panels.

Spray foam insulation: spray foam ceiling insulation is a soft foam (usually water-blown) that is sprayed between joists and rim joists to provide a highly effective insulation barrier for your ceiling.

There are many types of spray foam ceiling insulation. One particularly versatile example is Icynene spray foam.

When it is sprayed, it expands to fill any holes that might be between your ceiling’s joists and rim joists. It forms an air barrier that stops heat filtering out through convection – a major way energy is lost through ceilings.

Icynene also minimises the build-up of condensation because its open celled structure allows timber to breathe.

It is important that timber is allowed to breathe, because if it cannot then condensation may form and the timber could rot.

Rotting timber can cave in easily, so it is critical that you protect your ceiling against condensation by installing ceiling insulation that lets the ceiling’s joists breathe.

Unlike loose fill ceiling insulation, which may settle and move around over time (reducing its ability to effectively insulate your ceiling), spray foam insulation does not sag or settle over time.

Once it is installed it will not deteriorate or shift – ensuring constant and sustained insulation for your ceiling.

Blanket fill insulation: blanket fill ceiling insulation usually comes in rolls or batts. It is typically made from fiberglass, mineral (rock or slag) wool, plastic fibres, or natural fibres.

It can be fit between studs, joists, and beams, and usually comes pre-measured to suit standard stud and joist spacing. In its roll form, it can also be rolled over ceiling joists, which prevents heat from being lost via conduction.

One advantage blanket fill ceiling insulation has is that you can install it yourself. However, cutting the material to the exact size to fit in between the joists may be incredibly tricky – especially in houses with unusual architectural designs.

When it comes to ceiling insulation, sealing even the smallest gaps matters. It is essential that the insulating material forms a snug fit with the joists to stop heat leaking out of your home. This will also stop cold air seeping in.

Blanket fill ceiling insulation usually comes in standardised sizes, which might make installing it more convenient for some. However, these sizes are based on an average.

Each house is unique, and it is highly unlikely that the spaces between joists will be exactly the same from house-to-house.

The dimensions of a roll of ceiling insulation may work well in one house, but they may not work well in another. Once again, if you want to effectively insulate your ceiling then it is important to ensure there are no gaps left between your insulation and the timber surrounding it.

Since blanket fill insulation cannot fill holes like spray foam ceiling insulation can, it is important to use blanket fill ceiling insulation with the right dimensions to minimise gaps.

Loose fill insulation: loose fill ceiling insulation consists of small particles of either cellulose (made from recycled newspapers), fibreglass, mineral (rock or slag) wool, or other materials.

It is blown into the spaces between joists and crawl spaces using a specialised insulation-blowing machine. It can be blown into spaces and cavities that blanket fill insulation might not be able to insulate fully.

However, loose fill insulation also has limitations. Loose fill insulation can succumb to mould if it comes into contact with moisture. If you install loose fill ceiling insulation, you may also need to install soffit vents to prevent condensation.

This will reduce the chance of your loose fill ceiling insulation rotting, but, of course, at an additional cost.

As the material used in loose fill insulation is (as the name suggests) “loose”, it can shift and settle to one side of the attic due to airflow, which will reduce its ability to effectively insulate your ceiling.

Unlike spray foam insulation, it will not fill any holes or voids you might have in your ceiling. As a result, air will still be able to pass through any gaps you have between your joists, leaving you open to the risk of energy loss – the very thing you are trying to prevent.

Structural insulated panels (SIPs): SIPs are a type of ceiling thermal insulation that is made of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings (usually made of oriented strand board).

Although they do not offer the same level of potential energy savings Icynene does (Icynene offers energy savings of up to 50%), they nonetheless still provide energy savings of up to 12%-14%. They also have sound dampening qualities and have good R-values.

However, insects and rodents have been known to tunnel through SIPs. Some manufacturers have suggested various measures to curb this problem, such as applying insecticides to the panels.

SIPs must also be coupled with a ventilation system for health and safety, as well as to comply with many building codes. Installing a ventilation system is also likely to result in additional cost

Ceiling sound insulation: An amazing by-product of thermal insulation

Ceiling sound insulation is one hugely beneficial by-product of insulating your ceiling. As well as keeping your house warm and snug, ceiling insulation also doubles-up as an effective sound barrier.

Icynene spray foam ceiling insulation, for example, provides a high level of sound insulation, because it virtually eliminates airborne sounds like music, telephones, and conversations.

Its open cell structure allows it to absorb sound (which is also how the sound dampening insulation used in recording studios works).

Icynene also reduces “flanking noise” – noises that originate from within the ceiling, like plumbing runs.

By sealing around the source of the noise, Icynene muffles any flanking noise that may come from your ceiling.

It further minimises both airborne and flanking noise by plugging any holes through which air can travel.

This dampens the noise of things such as televisions, flushing toilets, and running taps – all of which can be especially bothersome when you are trying to sleep.

The ceiling sound insulation benefits that come with good insulation could quite literally save you a lot of headaches!

To have a professional surveyor give you a FREE quote for Icynene ceiling insulation (that is valid for 12 months), contact us here or call us on 0800 689 1894.

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Vaulted ceiling insulation

Installing vaulted ceiling insulation is a procedure that takes a lot of skill to get right. This is because firstly, vaulted ceilings come in a variety of styles.

Some are concave all the way through or consist of multiple concaved sections. Others are more traditional.

Secondly, it also requires a good deal of knowledge on the type of ceiling insulation you will need to use for your project.

One important thing to take into consideration is that you will need vaulted ceiling insulation that offers great thermal efficiency but is not too thick.

Icynene is a good example of a lightweight and breathable open cell foam insulation that fits the bill.

It offers good ceiling thermal insulation whilst its open celled structure allows timber to breathe at the same time. This helps to prevent condensation, mould growth, and wood rot.

Another alternative is Structural Insulated Panels (SIPs). This is a type of vaulted ceiling insulation that consists of an insulating foam core sandwiched between two structural facings (usually made of oriented strand board).

However, if you are installing SIPs you will need to make sure that your roof is properly ventilated to ensure condensation does not build up.

A major drawback of using SIPs is that the roof will need to be removed in order to install them.

On the other hand, Icynene ceiling insulation can be sprayed in place – without removing the roof.

As we previously established, vaulted ceilings come in a variety of styles. Since Icynene is a liquid spray foam which expands to become a solid, it can accommodate the shape of any style of vaulted ceiling.

Therefore, not only can Icynene spray foam[15] can be sprayed directly in place, but it can also be sprayed on all kinds of vaulted ceilings – no matter how unconventional the design.

Another alternative is to use batts of ceiling insulation. This is usually cheaper than using spray foam. However, measuring, cutting, and shaping batts of ceiling insulation can be a complicated process.

If the batts and boards are not measured and cut precisely, air will still be able to infiltrate in between them and the rafters. This is also true for SIPs if they are not installed correctly.

This is not a concern with Icynene. Icynene ceiling insulation expands to fill any gaps it is sprayed into.

Whereas ceiling insulation boards often have gaps in between them, Icynene forms a continuous layer of insulation when it is sprayed.

This stops heat leaking out through miniscule gaps that other traditional forms of vaulted ceiling insulation cannot seal.

But the benefits of good ceiling insulation aren’t just limited to your home…

Suspended ceiling insulation for offices

There are few things more dispiriting than working in a cold office.

Typing with frozen fingers, sipping your morning cappuccino between chattering teeth – just a few of the unpleasantries that can be expected in an uninsulated office.

But there is, in fact, one thing worse than working in a cold office.

Working in a hot one.

Having your shirt stick to your skin with sweat; waiting desperately for the moment when the fan rotates in your direction – it is absolute misery. Especially for us Brits.

But you need not to suffer. Installing suspended ceiling insulation will keep your office warm in the winter – and cool in the summer – by providing a robust layer of thermal insulation.

Heat naturally rises out of your office and into the ceiling void above it via convection.

Suspended ceiling insulation minimises this loss of heat energy, because it acts a barrier that restricts the flow of convective air movement.

It is the transfer of air that makes your office colder during the winter. Heat rises because air is transferred from warmer areas (your office) to colder areas (the space above the ceiling tiles).

Likewise, it is this same convective transfer of heat that makes offices unbearably hot in the summer Heat from the scorching outdoors also moves into your relatively cooler office space via convection.

Icynene suspended ceiling insulation greatly reduces this transfer of heat because it forms a continuous air barrier above your office’s ceiling tiles.

Whereas traditional ceiling insulation pads are fit individually above ceiling tiles – leaving gaps between the panels through which air can infiltrate – Icynene is sprayed as one continuous layer.

This ensures any gaps are virtually eliminated, which significantly minimises heat loss via convection.

Further, since Icynene is a spray foam it is extremely lightweight.

One potential problem you may encounter when installing suspended ceiling insulation is the weight of the insulation materials you are using.

Some ceiling tiles – fibreglass tiles in particular – are fragile and may not support the weight of conventional insulation pads or batts you place on top of them.

Icynene, on the other hand, is an incredibly lightweight type of suspended ceiling insulation.

It is much more likely that the ceiling tiles in your office will be able to support Icynene’s lighter weight than other traditional, heavier types of ceiling insulation.

Icynene’s light weight is due to its open cell structure. This open cell structure also allows it to absorb sound, which makes it an effective sound dampener.

Offices often try to compensate for their lack of suspended ceiling insulation by turning their heating up in the winter and turning their AC on in the summer.

But this comes at a cost.

According to The Carbon Trust, nearly 50% of the CO2 emissions produced by the UK come from heating and cooling in buildings[9].

Even leaving your AC on for an extra hour a day uses enough energy in a month to power a TV for over a year.

Installing suspended ceiling insulation not only reduces your emissions (and saves the planet!), but it also has another, more direct benefit.

It saves you money.

With ceiling insulation installed, you will not need to crank the thermostat up as high. In fact, you will almost certainly need to turn it down! But this is advantageous, because turning the thermostat down by as little as 1°C saves up to 8% in heating costs!

So not only does suspended ceiling insulation help save the planet, but it also helps you save money.

Most importantly, though, it saves you from workplace misery.

You spend most of your week at work, so why not make your week as comfortable as possible?

To make your property more comfortable, contact us here or call us on 0800 689 1894 for a FREE quote that is valid for 12 months.

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